Materialism of Diversity

I’m sure by now you’ve all read about the dude who wrote this paean to his thick wife about how he thinks she’s awesome and about how he vigorously pats himself on the back for thinking she’s awesome because she’s not Emma Watson or Rihanna sized. The dude was roundly mocked for it even before he and his wife were thoroughly and utterly Milkshake Duck’d (not gonna link but apparently, they’re big transphobes and racists so uh). That this dude got attention for his lame attempt at feminism is not all that surprising, given that the current climate rewards such tokenism over caring about people. It’s a trance people put themselves under. If you are friends with or even better, do sexy things with a marginalized person, folks seem to think they got their get out of jail free card if they show their ugliness.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Materialism is a hard human quality to kick, and it extends the company one keeps, as if people can be possessions. It’s less that people think they own other people, but that they “have” friends. It’s an accumulation, and you hear it all the time. “How can I be racist; I have Black friends!” You see it everywhere, conservatives, liberals, centrists, even some leftists like to break out whom they associate with rather than how their ideas would help disadvantaged folks (Nina Turner is on our side! Roqayah Chamseddine! Chelsea Manning!). Then the interpersonal politics of who’s right and who’s wrong turn into an arms race of who has the most marginalized people on their side without taking into consideration why they’re marginalized in the first place.

To wit, treating an overweight woman like a human being is definitely a good thing to do. Honestly, we, as in all 7+ billion of us on this planet, should treat each other like human beings. Verbally beating your meat over how non-traditionally sexy your wife is, however, skews close to objectification, and when it’s built upon a bed of nasty bigotry, it’s a hollow attempt at showing you only care about what you have over who you are. Marrying a curvy woman isn’t a feminist action. Being a feminist is a feminist action.

Humans would be far better off by trying to go forward by showing how well they can treat other people and not by counting numbers on their sides. It turns people into possessions and robs them of their agency. It doesn’t matter what person of color or queer person is on your side if you can’t prove what you can do to help them. You’re not a feminist if you wanna bone a fat girl if you’re a pickup artist. You’ve just got different tastes in the women you treat like objects. Same for the Republicans who trot out Ben Carson and want to bone people like him with rescinding Affirmative Action and continuing profiling, or the people fawning at Hillary Clinton despite her unapologetic use of prison labor and her support of awful crime bills and environment-wrecking fracking.

Of course, having friends of different demographics is not a bad thing. I myself have a wife whose aesthetic lay outside of what Hollywood presents as superiorly attractive. I have friends who are Black, trans, disabled, among others. But the moment I rest on any of those laurels and use those people as a trump card for why I hold a moral high ground without doing any work to back it up is the moment I want anyone and everyone with a conscience to yell at me for my shit. I pride myself on trying to do and support things that help people.

People are not badges of honor you flash to get out of social scrutiny. They are the same as you, and want the same as you. You don’t get brownie points for marrying a girl you deem “curvy.” Your rank materialism is out of control once you start claiming persons as trophies, especially if Milkshake Duck comes to claim you.

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